I'm laying out my content promotion strategies, tools,& practices that grow your site traffic.
This tweet had my brain churning for DAYS! But my immediate response was to @Kaleigh with the comment "I do this". Kaleigh slid into my DM's and a conversation about my content promotion strategies and process began. This had me thinking...
If Kaleigh Moore, a freelance writing teacher with more than 19,000 followers on Twitter and articles in Forbes and Vogue Business, is curious about content promotion services and how they work, it's likely that others are too.
Thing is... there aren't a ton of content promotion services available- companies that actually engage in targeted communities and social listening to position your content.
Even more challenging, there are a lot of content marketing agencies that promote content, but only so far as posting it or boosting it on social media, maybe adding it to a content aggregator, or getting you a few guest posts.
This leaves you to boost your own posts more thoroughly, but...
Most people aren't promoting their content. Those that want to don't know how to go about it. Those that know how to go about it aren't willing to put in the time.
(p.s... content promotion takes a lot of time, that's why most content marketing services don't do it.)
Plenty of people are curious about the topic, though- evidenced in posts like this on quora:
And these results from a simple google search, which shows that people are searching for strategies and answers to how to promote content.
I believe part of what holds people back is the heavy reliance on SEO and the belief that good content can promote itself.
Sorry, but it can't.
I know, it's sad. Trust me, I'm pretty choked up about it. But it's a fact nonetheless.
Because content can't (always) reach its audience on its own, it needs a little boost. If you aren't doing it yet, this post isn't to convince you why you should. Instead, this post is for those that KNOW that content promotion is important but don't know how to go about it, or don't want to spend forever doing it.
In this post, I'll answer these pertinent questions (you can click on the links to take you to each section if you'd like to skip ahead):
How do you promote content? (All the best content promotion strategies)
Why is content promotion important?
It may seem a little elementary because you likely already understand the importance of content promotion. After all, you came here for answers on how to promote content, organically, with paid ads, social media, or otherwise.
But this is a question that a lot of people are asking right now, and I feel that a lot of the answers given in this quora thread and across the internet, just don't cover it.
There is, however, one statement that rings true, from a comment by Myra Dua:
If you want to build an online presence of your website, producing quality content is just not enough.
Let's start with that.
A LOT of content marketers and marketing experts will make the case that quality content should be your priority, and that it will be enough to attract readers. I can agree with the first part of that. The second... not so much.
The internet is flooded with millions of new articles EVERY. SINGLE. DAY!
Seriously, "almost 2.75 million posts are published each day on WordPress alone"
Can you imagine trying to beat them all for the first page in a google search?
Now, now, I know they're not focusing on the same topic, but you're still facing a lot. For instance, take the term "content promotion" and use the image below for reference.
These are the top pages for the term "content promotion". They're all exceptionally well-known brands in the marketing space. Their traffic (the first column) is at least over 200 visitors per month.
Their DA (Domain Rating- in the second column) is well over 80, and that last column highlights how many backlinks they have to their article- yes, that's a lot.
Beating those mavericks for the first page of a Google search is a challenge, especially for a "lame" term (I call it that, anyway) like content promotion.
The term itself only has a search volume of around 100/month, and yet the keyword difficulty (KD) is 41 (I advise searching for terms with KD no higher than 25, especially if you are a new blog or one with low DR).
Okay, so this might already sound difficult or too complex for such a simple question. Let me break it down:
Other blogs, especially big brands in your niche, don't have to work as hard as you do to get on the first page of a search. They have their brand name, reputation, and domain authority.
You're also competing for the slot after those top pages, along with the hundreds of others writing for the same topic.
To overcome this issue, you have a few options:
- Use high intent keywords, that consider the intent of the buyer. If we continue with the content promotion example, this would mean writing an article about the best resources for a content promotion strategy, if you design strategies for companies or provide templates, etc. Or, the best content promotion tools, if you are a company that sells those tools or provides this kind of service. You'll get lower traffic, but likely more leads.
- Create a content promotion plan.
How can you gain more traffic from content promotion?
This one really gets me, because a lot of content marketing specialists and the companies they work for don't know how to answer this question. On Quora, the four answers I found can be boiled down to the same drivel as usual:
Email your subscribers.
I get it, these are popular methods for boosting your site traffic, but it matters a great deal in HOW you do each of those things. In addition, there are better ways.
Before we get into that, let's answer- how exactly do you get more traffic when you promote content?
Okay, so, there's this old adage that if you write great content and use keywords, your content will promote itself. Right, we covered this. We know there are just too many blogs out there right now to get easily noticed.
I just want to show proof of this- using my blog.
My site is young, and my blog (the one you're reading now) is even younger. Let's take a look at my post traffic with just keyword optimization, publication to my site, and a post on social media:
You see the low peaks from October through November? Those were my posts without promotion. That sudden jump in traffic is from a single post. The post right before this one, to be exact- B2B Content Ideas to Reach Your Target Audience (& How to Know Who That Is).
You also see that my general traffic, though it has fallen since that post peak, has remained higher than the two months prior.
As for a client that I have done content promotion for, we can take a look at a few stats.
From just two weeks of promoting articles on Reddit, it was bringing in as much referral traffic as Facebook and Linkedin (channels we'd also ramped up engagement on).
This is just an overview of a short period of their traffic, not reflective of their overall engagement.
Medium also brought in a fair amount of traffic, as did Quora, from really just ONE post.
Let's focus on that last number though, for traffic brought in through Quora. That 3 represents the number of sign-ups earned through the channel. 3, out of just 44 impressions. That's on par with the sign-ups converted from Reddit, with 104 site visits. BOTH are higher than the social media channels bringing in traffic.
This is because Reddit and Quora allow you to target your audience a little more thoroughly.
The numbers above are relatively small, for now. But the attention on promotion has been low, and we're starting from scratch. In other words...
I'm just getting started, baby! *rubbing hands together like I'm about to deadlift a tractor tire*
Now, content marketing is the long game. It always has been. But there are methods to growing even faster. I've used them for my clients (who usually already have a blog and have had one for years but were still not seeing the growth and traffic they should have), and now I'm using them for this new site.
Keep watching, because I'm using this site as a live case study, sorta.
The best content promotion strategies: How do you promote content?
This is the section that probably attracted you to this blog in the first place. It will cover everything from the basic promotion techniques like promoting articles on social media through paid promotion techniques.
It's a massive collection. Hence why this is an "ultimate guide", right? So let's dive into it.
Social media content promotion- get others involved.
Obviously, promoting articles on social media channels like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are extremely common. This is because they're huge drivers of traffic.
In these early days of growing my site and site blog, I've been focusing a lot on LinkedIn, since I work largely with B2Bs. Clearly, that tactic works, because it's the second-largest driver of my traffic at the moment (according to my Wix dashboard).
Lesser used channels include Pinterest and Instagram can also be huge drivers of traffic with even limited attention.
*P.s... If you are posting on social media, make sure to:
Ask for shares
Pin your latest article to appear at the top of your Twitter feed
Use Twitter cards
Use Twitter chats
So, most content marketing agencies are going to share your content on social media. Or, they may leave it up to you to distribute.
*This, of course, greatly depends on your budget and the type of content service you hire.
Regardless, it's very likely that whatever content service you hire isn't going to provide continuous engagement on social media.
I'm not talking about on your Facebook or LinkedIn page. I'm not talking about creating a social media calendar for you or social media management (which is, again, just posting on your own pages).
What I mean is real, consistent engagement with communities that your target audience engages in. This leads me to my next strategy.
Engage in the communities your target audience hangs out in
Take a look at the communities I engage with on Facebook:
AND... the list goes on. Yeah, it can be a full-time job. If you see job postings for "community manager", that's exactly what I'm talking about here.
Right now, it drives traffic to my articles, and that traffic is far more targeted and has a greater range than my Facebook page does now. In fact, right after posting one of my case studies in a Facebook group, I received this message:
That's just from engaging in Facebook groups. You shouldn't stop there. There are TONS of other communities to engage in:
Reddit is a great avenue for engagement because it segments conversations into actual communities. There, you can engage with other professionals in your niche that may be interested in sharing your content. There are also several communities in which potential customers/ readers ask questions about specific topics.
Because of this, it's also a great resource for curating content ideas.
I engage on Quora every single day, and it's been a great source of traffic for my site. In fact, if you look at the graphic I'd posted earlier, that shows LinkedIn as my second largest source of traffic, you'll notice that "direct" is my largest.
Every time I answer a question on Quora, I add my credential of Content Director for The Write Destination. While I can't completely state that all the "direct" traffic is coming from these interactions on Quora, it's highly likely due to the ability to reach my site through links on my other channels.
I also receive direct traffic to articles when I post links in the comments, which currently makes up 8% of my article traffic.
**There is an issue with businesses posting content on Quora and Reddit. The platforms kick businesses and even some individuals off for self-promotion. Such was the case for my client Memory AI as well as for Kaleigh Moore. Hence, why it's best if you have an individual within your company, or within the content marketing service you hire, to post content for you. Even they have to walk the line carefully. NEVER copy and paste blog post content into a Quora answer. It will definitely get you kicked out.**
There are thousands of forums out there- many of them tailored to niches. That's what makes them such great places to interact. As pointed out earlier, readers coming from sites like Quora and Reddit are more likely to convert because they're more targeted.
They're in those groups/ conversations/ communities because they are either in the industry or have an interest, which already makes them a more qualified reader.
if you target the right groups, you're more likely to get conversions. To find niche forums, simply type this combination into your search engine:
"intitle:forum" + [your niche keyword]
You don't necessarily have to include "intitle:", using Forum + [keyword] works as well.
There are A TON of other places you can interact:
Similar Web has a list of communities you can engage in and even provides the domain rating and bounce rate for each.
I don't personally engage in groups on these other platforms. I stick to LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook Groups, Quora, Medium, and Reddit- because I don't really have time for anything else.
There are a lot of challenges with community content promotion. Heck, even the guys that coined the term are reducing their use of the tactic.
Community engagement is a great way to target the people that might actually want to work with you, or at least share or read your content. As a new blog, it's been a great driver of traffic for me, and it has a residual impact even in my lower engagement periods.
If you're looking for a way to gather content ideas, engage with your customers/clients on a very personal level, get your name out, and even build up some backlinks, this is a great method. It's also a very affordable way of promoting your content.
For Grow and Convert, a content marketing agency, it was the essential driver of their entire business. Not only did community promotion grow their blog traffic to nearly 16,000 users in 4.5 months, but it was also their ONLY method of promoting their content. Content being their only tool for bringing in leads.
Get experts involved in your articles
Simply posting my articles on social media wasn't giving me very much of a boost. I mean, it was certainly helpful, but my last article- B2B content ideas- attracted far more attention to my site than any of the previous articles or methods. This was because I employed a tactic of using subject matter experts in my article.
Now, there are a couple different ways of doing this.
In my last article, I simply interviewed some of the people I engage with the most on LinkedIn that happened to be knowledgeable on the topic. I sent them messages through LinkedIn asking for their insights, and they willingly contributed.
This is a fast, easy way to get expert input to back up your claims, add alternate points of view, and add credibility to your article.
It's also an incredible way to boost the viewership of your article and site.
Well, you message them again to let them know you've included their quote at the time that you post it on social. Ask them to look over the article, share it on social, or at least like and comment on the social post. Many of them will likely share it in a post of their own, as my contributors had. If you're lucky, they'll even use your article in a blog post on their own site, providing you a backlink.
Another method is to interview just one subject matter expert to inform your entire article.
This method is best employed for subject matter that you don't have any knowledge on. In other words, it's a great way to create content for clients. However, it's just as great of a method for your own agency or business blog, because it provides credibility and will be an entirely unique piece of content.
No one can copy your article, rephrase it, and claim it as their own- which is incredibly common among regular articles.
Why do I mention this as a promotional tactic?
Well, just like with multiple contributors, the person or company you interview is likely to share the article. Why wouldn't they? It's a free backlink, free press, and provides credibility for them as well.
And when your article is shared by a company, you're more likely to attract companies within their sphere. Yay, promotion to a more targeted audience.
Email the companies, tools, and people mentioned in your article.
You don't necessarily HAVE to email them, but you should reach out to them somehow. This can take various forms:
Tag on social
DM on Twitter or LinkedIn
Comment on their Facebook or LinkedIn page
Reach out to management level individuals if you know them (you may consider cold emailing them a link as well, but it's better if you at least engage with them on social or know them)
Like letting your article contributors know that you've posted the article and asking them to share it, this method can offer huge boosts to your article. It's also likely to work and is fairly easy to employ.
The reason this works, despite it being companies you're reaching out to, is because it offers credibility- yes, that word again. This is fundamental to any business. You want to prove that you're a leader in the industry and that people are talking about you.
Not to mention, these companies need materials to share as well.
Reach out to influencers.
What an influencer looks like, and the platform they use, is different for each industry and niche. Essentially, it's just someone (or a couple) with a very large audience that listens and even purchase based on what the influencer endorses (wears, uses, supports).
The best way to go about reaching out to influencers is to actually develop a relationship with them over time. Buy their items, use their quote in an article, share their articles, etc.
Of course, there are potentially thousands of others doing the same. Get as close as you can. Speak with people in their circle, and form similar relationships. Have something to offer that may be of interest to the influencer.
This one can be a bit challenging, especially with some of the really big influencers that receive a ton of messages every day. However, so far, I've managed to speak directly with Kaleigh Moore, have been able to jump on a call with Davesh & Benji, the Founders of Grow & Convert, and have even spoken with some of my favorite authors on Twitter.
The best advice I can give when it comes to reaching out to prominent figures in your niche is to regularly engage and be a consumer of their content (whatever form that takes).
To stay on top of engaging with influencers, set Google Alerts, or at the very least set alerts onto specific accounts on Twitter so you're notified each time they tweet.
Want to know how to FIND influencers?
Chance are, if you're regularly reading resources within your industry and staying engaged on social media, you're going to know at least a handful of influencers in your industry.
Yet, you're likely going to miss a few of the big ones, and many, many more of those that are on their way up.
A great way to find Influencers, and also journalists if you're looking to pitch to publications, is to use Buzzsumo. Their pricing plans are a bit hefty, BUT they do offer a free version if you simply let your free trial run out without signing up for an upgrade.
As you can see below, it provides the option to search for influencers as well as get content ideas, and to see which content gets the most shares.
I personally use Ahrefs to find top content, and detailed user research to create content ideas, and social listening to find influencers relevant to the circles my clients and I are in. However, as I grow, I'm anticipating using Buzzsumo more often since it may speed up some of my processes.
Reach out to those that share and/or write similar content.
Chances are, if someone is already sharing content similar to what you write, they're likely to share yours as well. You just have to get them to notice.
There are a lot of ways to do this:
Twitter hashtag tracking
Use Buzzsumo to search social engagements
Use Ahrefs to find top related pages
Use Ahrefs to check the backlinks of popular content
As mentioned in the section above, Buzzsumo is a great way to find these audiences. Personally, I use Ahrefs to find relevant pages, sites, and people based on keywords. More details in the tools section below.
Get backlinks & viewers through guest posting.
You've probably heard this tip about a million times, but it's true. Guest posting is a great way to earn backlinks, and also one of the BEST ways to increase viewership of your blog.
There has been some backlash about guest posting in the past, because some people would write trashy, spammy articles with a ton of links to their site. Others have also stated that guest posting is dead, and doesn't drive much viewership.
I've read a lot of articles on guest posting throughout the years, and to be honest, a lot of them are outdated. Or, they make guest posting seem rather easy, when in reality it can take a lot of emails to get a few guest post opportunities.
Despite this, some of the top influencers today got to the top with guest posting (and many still continue the practice).
I personally have a very large spreadsheet of sites I'm working on reaching out to, and I suggest you create a spreadsheet for your own niche as well.
It's rather simple to find guest posting opportunities.
Simply type this formula into a Google search.
[keyword] + write for us
You don't necessarily have to use "write for us". You can also use any of these phrases:
Become a contributor
Become an author
Accepting guest posts
There are tons of variations of those phrases you can also use, and I'd suggest running a search for at least a couple. Here's what a search looks like with the term "write for us"
Once you find them, you can add them to a spreadsheet along with the 76pitch date, publication date, live link, etc.
If you go the guest posting route, be aware that many of the popular sites that allow contributors receive hundreds and thousands of guest post requests. They're often slow to respond, and rejection is exceptionally frequent.
Cheating the system: A bonus tactic
There is a way to get around this though, and it reduces the time spent writing and pitching articles by... well, a lot. You won't have an entire article in a publication, but your quote, name, and business link might be.
This is possible by joining HARO (Help A Reporter Out).
It's free and easy to sign up, too, so that's a bonus. You get emails every day with questions to answer. Choose those that are most related to your business.
Bookmarking & Syndicating your content.
I bookmark all of my articles as well as all of my clients' articles. So far, it seems that Zest.is is the best driver of traffic to MY site.
Bookmarking is essentially saving your webpage on content sharing sites like Pocket. This is a low-quality backlink that has the potential to get more eyes on your content.
I currently use:
The easiest way to bookmark your content is to download the chrome extensions of each, and bookmark the content directly from the page. Scoop.it and Zest.is are the only two that do not have extensions, but as mentioned before, Zest.is drives a decent amount of traffic to my site.
There are other paid sites, like Quuu, Taboola, Outbrain, and Zemanta, but if you don't have a budget for paid syndication, then using the free sites is still a great tactic for boosting your content.
I've never used any of these sites, except Quuu, but only for free content curation on my Twitter feed. Strangely, just allowing Quuu to share content on my feed has already grown my following.
On the first day I gained around 10 followers. Since then I go up one or two followers here and there but consistently get new likes and retweets.
This, for me, is enough to keep using it, and a great indication of how valuable syndicating content on Quuu could be if you have the budget for it.
As far as syndication goes, the easiest way to syndicate content is through some of the bookmarking sites above. Medium is one of the most popular content syndication platforms, and it automatically puts in a link to your original article, so it doesn't confuse the search engines (due to identical content).
Linkedin Publisher and Business 2 Community are also supposed to be great places to syndicate your content. I cannot attest to this though, since I haven't used either.
Another way to syndicate content (share an identical copy of your article on another site), is to essentially use your post as a guest post.
There are TONS of articles talking about how to do this. One of the most compelling is Sarah Peterson's article How to Get Extra Traffic From Republishing Your Articles.
I gotta tell ya though, nearly every blog and publication I've searched is restricting submissions to original content and completely disregarding any content already published.
In some cases, submitting previously published content can get you banned from future submissions.
Rest assured though, there are still sites to syndicate on... you just have to hunt for them a little.
Link Building Campaign
All of the strategies I've listed in this article are somehow related to building links- whether it be through encouraging influencers to use your post in an article of their own, bookmarking, or simply improving the quality of your content so people are more likely to link to it.
But there are a few strategies I'd like to highlight here. The first is to submit your articles to link roundup newsletters or blog posts.
There are tons of link roundups across the internet, (though they are becoming less common) but I'm not going to lie... they're not always easy to find. It used to be as simple as running one of the following through a google search:
[Keyword] + link roundup
Other terms you can use include:
+ “weekly roundup”
+ “weekly link”
+ best blogs of the week
Now, if I run that kind of search, this is what comes up:
That's right, one link roundup... and a ton of articles on HOW to use link roundups to build backlinks. To find link roundup pages, you have to dig a little further, into the pages behind the first search results and try a few different search terms.
Because I like you so much though, here are a few freebies:
The Shelf consistently creates roundups of influencers.
Other link building techniques:
There's one technique that really takes a lot of patience and time input, and that is the broken link strategy. The strategy is rather simple, it's just painstaking.
Say you've created an epic content promotion guide, like this one, and you want to get links for it. You search for other blogs and resources (just type in a keyword and resources and you'll get a lot of results) that share similar links. You're ready to email the owner of the blog to offer your link for their article... but you want to have something to offer, so they'll be less likely to reject you.
Plus, it's always easier to develop a relationship that's mutually beneficial.
So, you search their site for broken links using a broken link extension. I personally use "Check My Links". I like it because it highlights the links in either green or red, to show you which are active and which are broken. It looks like this:
Once you've discovered broken links, you can email the blog editor/writer/marketing director to inform them of the broken link and offer your link as a replacement.
As mentioned, this takes a lot of time and its effectiveness is about on par with cold emailing. You can send out hundreds of emails and only receive a few responses. Despite this, even marketing influencers use this method on occasion- like Brian Dean of Backlinko.
Speaking of Brian Dean, his method, "Moving Man Method", is another great strategy for acquiring backlinks.